Monday, August 31, 2009

Just a minute... in August

The end of August already? Dang, that arrived quickly! So what am I up to?

Reading (well, flicking through)...

Homemade - the Handmade Help recipe book.

Save by Shannon Lush and Jennifer Flemming.

The Australian Government's Style Manual for authors, editors and printers - just a little bedtime reading.

Obsessing over... all-things tea-related. Well, except for the tea itself! I flirt with tea occasionally but coffee's my One True Love. But the idea and the aesthetic of tea-drinking appeals. The romance, the ritual, the leisurely pace... the fine-bone china... the cucumber sandwiches...

So in between hurried gulps of strong black coffee I've been creating little tea 'vignettes' to place around the house. Sick of hiding my lovely cups in a cupboard, I emptied out a fabulously grungy drawer (from our thrifted 'TV stand'), turned it sideways and made a little display cabinet:

I also cut up and 'framed' teapot images from a gorgeous screen printed tea towel bought at my local handmade shop, Olive Grove. They're just waiting to be hung somewhere now...

Wearing... brooches. Brooches brooches brooches. Since I last posted about brooches, my collection has more than doubled! A couple of great thrift finds, a few rediscoveries (it pays to clean out the bedroom drawers now and then), a few made-by-me additions, and best of all some very sweet gifts from fellow bloggers.

A big shout out to:

Kylie of 3sheets for her awesome artsy stitched paper and felt brooch (first column, second last);

Mim of Mim Art Life for her beautiful round dry-felted brooch (top of second column). Not the original one she gave me - that's a sad tale for another time :-( - but just perfect.

Claire of Bear Among Bees for her super-cute bunny rabbit brooch (third column, second-last) and an AMAZING frog brooch made from an upcycled battery and wires. I just noticed he didn't make it into the picture... he was getting played-with at the time!

Making... Brooches - dry-felted, glued, embroidered, just fiddling around. Embroidering stuff here and there, usually badly. Sewing very very badly and thinking about a lesson or two. Refashioning nothing. Oh, and felting a hedgehog:

It's time to revisit my own Craftstipation post and get a grip I think.

What are you up to? Come and join Jen's meme and let us all know.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Freecycling vs blogcycling...

(Scroll down if you want to get to the point!)

So I joined Freecycle earlier this year. Do you Freecycle?

For years now I've culled unwanted stuff by giving it away to friends and charities. I'm not very interested in selling on Ebay - I'm not sure that any money made would be worth the effort, and I think giving stuff away for free - even precious stuff - helps me to chip away at materialistic tendencies that lurk around inside me.

Still, sometimes it's hard to find a taker, or to get stuff to an op-shop. The benefit of Freecycle is that you're able to 'advertise' your stuff to a wide group of local people and thus will usually find a taker, who will arrange to pick it up - very swiftly! - at your convenience. Furthermore, people on Freecycle seem to want to take all sorts of crappy stuff off your hands.

"Empty DVD cases? Sure, I'll pick them up tonight!"

"Broken TV? I'd love it!" Strange, but true...

So far, I've found Freecycle a fantastic way to divest our house of things that aren't being loved and used. The things I've listed have been taken away within hours. It's kind of weird though. Melbourne Freecycle uses a 'Yahoo Groups' system and it's really clunky. You get several emails a day listing stuff that's offered, wanted or taken. From the swift responses I've had, I get the impression that there are some Freecyclers sitting at the computer all day, ready to pounce on whatever you're offering. Then it's up to YOU to decide who is 'worthy' of your old feather duster/bag of computer cables/copy of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.

Of course, I also like getting second-hand stuff for free, and I though perhaps Freecycle might prove to be a fruitful source of creative materials and tools. I'd heard of people getting amazing material stashes on Freecycle, and I wondered about finding an unloved overlocker.

Yeah... not so much. I've asked for a few things, but to no avail. And anything I've put my hand up for, I've had no response. Clearly, I haven't quite hit on the formula for responding to posts. I think you probably need to have a combination of heart-rending story and superhuman pick-up speed:

"Oh, I totally want and need your limbless Cabbage Patch Doll for my amputee daughter to play with. I can be there as soon as you want, in fact I'm sitting outside your house right now, yep that's me, staring eerily at you outside the kitchen window..."

The point...
Anyway, I have two items that I was going to Freecycle, but then I figured I may as well ask if anyone who reads this blog might like a look-in. Blogcycling, yeah.

1. The first is a Melbourne-only blogcycle - our Breville Breadmaker, in great condition and with instruction/recipe book. You would need to be able to pick it up from Brunswick (but at your convenience)!

2. The second I'm happy to post Australia-wide. It's a hug-a-bub baby sling, only used a few times.

First come first served for either (no sob stories required!). If no one wants them, I know there's probably a Freecycler already sitting outside my window just waiting, waiting for the word...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My creative space...

Another glaringly red creative space for me today.

You may have noticed me over the last few weeks, diligently pracitsing my stitchery, experimenting with paint, stamps and felt, trying to come up with something astounding for the Quilt Project.

Yesterday I chucked it all in, went for broke and designed, started and finished my square in an hour.

You see, my redwork was turning green and blue. Green, because I was looking enviously at the clever designs, astounding technique and rapid progress of others. Blue, because I was feeling mildly inferior and amateur. I don't have a signature style, or medium, or technique. I was wanting to be perfect at something I've never done before.

That's not what this is about. It's about community, not competition. It's about championing and enjoying the talents of others, and being happy to sit alongside them, to be inspired, not allowing myself to be threatened by beauty.

Thanks Kirsty. For lots of stuff, but particularly the opportunity to be part of something bigger than my own ego!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Eye Spy... something I'd like to try (properly)

Oh boy. This is a tough topic (thank you Kimono Reincarnate!) for someone with creative ADHD. I guess I could pick something non-craft-related that I'd like to try, such as truffles, or running a half-marathon. But that's not really where I'm at right now. It's all about the craft, baby.
Here's something I did try, for the first time last week, and would now like to try properly:

Dry-felting. I have no dry- or wet-felting experience, only woollen-jumper fulling (as seen here). But my lovely in-laws, knowing my propensity for moving from one creative project to another with lightening speed, gave me a random gift of alpaca-fleece rovings on their last visit. So I found me some needles and had a good jab.

It's a kind of fun, weird, cathartic process, all that poking and gouging. Now I'd like to give it a real go. I'm not sure whether it was my (completely improvised) technique or the unique properties of alpaca wool, but it kind of looks and feels like a weird itchy fox tale. Oh well. Destined to become a brooch, anyway.
Thanks Cindy for the fun... perhaps Eye Spy is something YOU'D like to try?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Peace stitches

A quiet week. Time for some reflection and rumination, and just a bit of stitching.

This is a small gift for a friend. A friend towards whom I was insensitive and thoughtless. A friend who graciously forgave.

Thank you friend.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Eye Spy... Something Red.

I don't have to look very far in my world to find something RED... I figured it was the week to join in with bugandpop's Eye Spy for the first time.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

My creative space...

'Knock yourselves out' she said. 'As long as it's red'.

Yes, this is a 'quilt project' update. I started out innocently enough with thoughts of embroidery. Well I practised my stitching, and then got stuck on the hard bit - coming up with a design. And while I've been thinking I've been playing.

Now there's red everywhere. Red felt, red floss, red thread, red paint. And I'm no closer to deciding what I'm doing.

Relax. I've got a month.

More creative spaces here.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A stab of brooches?

After poking my nose around a few peoples' collections last week, I was wondering whether I could be considered a collector of anything.

I aspire to be a collector of tea-cups, and indeed have two beautiful, quirky, tasteful sets of cups given to me by one of my dearest friends (thank you, Melski!). But a tea-cup collection in my view is the sort of thing that needs decades to grow slowly and meaningfully, and given the small flat/limited shelf space/rampaging boy-children, now is NOT the time to augment it.

I do, however, have a new-found passion for brooches, it seems. And I'm not sure whether there is an particular number at which a smattering of brooches turns into a collection worthy of its own collective noun - but I've decided that 8 is a jolly good start!

More to the point, I can see myself collecting brooches in an ongoing manner. Yes, my Beloved, if you are reading this - I DO plan to add to the brooch collection. You see, brooches are the perfect accessory for me. I've never really pulled off the bejewelled look, and tend to get earrings, rings and necklaces snagged on things. And people.

But brooches - well, they're miniature works of art. They can incorporate such a huge variety of materials and span a wide range of styles. They're small, easy to store, functional (Pin that scarf! Poke that intruder's eye out!). I. LOVE. BROOCHES.

Clockwise from top left:

1. The Curlypops brooch - sooo hot right now! I love the detail and professionalism in this gorgeous pop of colour, and it brightens my day when I wear it.

2. A cute mingus designs birdie from Meet Me At Mikes - my first brooch a few years back.

3. A classic W-Class Tram brooch from Jennie - check out her cushions!

4. A wearable domino from Meet Me At Mikes (the store is just around the corner from the hospital I gave birth at OK?!)

5. Wooden ampersand (I heart ampersands) from a great shop in Hobart called Love & Clutter. Cool name hey????

6. An AMAZING brooch from Betty Jo Designs. You have no idea how thrilled I was to win a button giveaway at Lino Forest last week - and then to discover in my very generous package this fabulous creation. I LOVE it.

7. Little mousy brooch - another treat-to-self from talented stitcher Rebecca from Edward & Lilly. Tell you what, this one's been through the washer and dryer by accident and still looks perfect.

8. Another fabulous giveaway win, an inimitable Buttonhead Brooch from Sam at Jetta's Nest.

OK, so that's my collection thus far. I'm really hoping to add a few more iconic, bloggy brooches to the mix. I have my eye on one of the lovelies that Sophie of Her Library Adventures makes - she's currently hosting a giveaway, but I'd prefer if you didn't enter because it's mine, MINE...

Oh, and heads up, Kylie of 3Sheets - if you don't open a shop soon I'm coming to steal a brooch from you!

So...I don't suppose you make brooches, do you?

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Friday, August 7, 2009

We have winners!

Thanks y'all for entering my birthday giveaway. I really enjoyed getting so many responses, it was so interesting to read your 'soapbox' thoughts and find out what goes on in those creative brains! There were a mixture of hot topics - funny, poignant, thought-provoking, angry. I'll be revisiting a few of them.

Anyway, we have winners! Four winners in fact... I was quite overcome with the number of entries (40) and decided I had enough loot for 4 peeps instead of 3. I decided to try the old 'scrawl-on-paper-and-draw-out-of-bowl' method of picking winners, which produced THIS:

So here are the winners - and I thought I'd share their moment on the 'soapbox' with you all too.

1. Melanie (M*) - you were drawn out first so you get dibs on the Mixtape subscription.

I'd like to see Ang Suu Kyi freed, Mugabe gone, peace in Israel/Palestine, Tibet free, Shirin Ebadi's free Iran, female oppression and circumcision a thing of the past, poverty eradicated,world wide united front on climate change, Obama to make a serious difference, more people leaving their cars at home, religious tolerance, racial tolerance, bugger it - more tolerance overall, more compassion, more equality and the couch grass in my garden die off so that maintaining my vegie patch is no longer a depressing lost cause.

2. Becclebee (Marjoryjane) wins the KeepCup, vintage serviettes and some fabric.

So many people seem to live thoughtless lives. they just do whatever, without a thought about the impacts their actions make on the world around them. this goes to so many of the issues - throwaway fashion / excess packaging / endless consumerism / i could go on and on and on. that is why i think sometime for reflection is really important - thinking about you life and the choices you make and the importance of trying to live a thoughful life.

3. Clairebee (Bear Among Bees) gets the brooch, scarf and fabric envelopes. (Clearly it's all about having 'bee' on the end of your name!)

I've been getting on my soapbox lately about a feeling of societal pressure to spend more hours at work...sometimes in jobs that smother creativity, or perhaps in a job that is enjoyed but at the expense of time with loved ones :sigh

4. Bek (Red Chocolate) wins the vintage sewing patterns and some pretty fabrics from my stash.

I have a soap box in construction about the same issue as Cravings Frocks. I am sick of buying clothes that fall apart, the term "disposable fashion" is a good one... but worse than that wondering about the conditions under which my cheapie clothes are made. I don't know that much about it yet, blogland has really opened my eyes to this issue. Is there "Fair trade clothing" like chocolate/tea/coffee?

Thanks guys. Shoot me an email with your addresses :-)

Giveaway reminder (and gratuitous kiddy shot)

Just a heads-up that I'll be drawing winners for my birthday giveaway today. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading the 'soapbox' comments and learning a little more about what people are passionate about. Still time to enter - you could score yourself a Mixtape subscription or one of two 'party bags' containing thrifted and handmade goodies. Please just make sure you are contactable via blog or email so I can let you know if you win!

And now for the gratuitous pics:

Last Friday, I 'celebrated' my birthday with 3am start to the day thanks to this fella, my little Charlie. One of the sweetest-natured kids by day, but a terror by night.

This Friday, I'm a different person. He's been sleeping at night ALL WEEK. Hallelujah! Thank you Charlie-B-Bear, little Pudding.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My creative space...

Like many others around the joint, I trying to channel my Inner Embroiderer in order to participate in Kootoyoo's quilt project. Is this girl the community queen or what?!
Sadly, my calico has not arrived this week... time to start stalking the postman again. Meanwhile, I'm taking a leaf out of Badskirt's book and practising some 'techniques' on a bit of Kristen Doran fabric. Don't look too closely.
Who else is playing today? Pop over here and add your link...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Coming clean at chez clutterpunk

Housework is a strange beast, isn't it? Pay it too much attention, give it too much value and it can cause resentment, stifle creativity (no Darling, those crayons are just for show), and be a breeding-ground for obsessive behaviour. Pay it not enough, and it can wreak havok in the home(um, honey, did you throw out my Passport again?)
I think I've lived at both extremes. Mostly, I've lived at one end (the messy one) and envied the other. But, as with many areas of my life, I'm now seeking the Middle Way. As I said when I started blogging, I'm trying to get rid of the bad clutter in my life, and celebrate the 'good clutter'.
So I thought I'd revisit this idea today, and write down my Cleaning Ritual. This is kind of a pep talk-to-Self, because this morning I came close to feeling overwhelmed and panicked at the thought of trying to clean my (currently chaotic) flat. And then I remembered to stop being a perfectionist, and voila, there is now a haven of beauty amidst the squalor - a clean bathroom.

How to Clean, clutterpunk-style:

1. Don an Apron

This bright, smock-style apron has been the best op-shop find ever. The colours are very happifying. Putting it on makes me feel cheerful and slightly silly, which is the best way to feel when doing housework. And of course, it's extremely practical. But mostly just silly.

2. Work while the kids are AWAKE.

There is precious-little kid-free time for me, so I'm not going to squander it on the housework! This has been a liberating decision for me. Some of you are probably thinking 'well, duh!' and others may be thinking 'What?! Do a non-child-centred activity?!' Yes, it can be a slow and frustrating process to try to clean while the boys are roaming around. But it's good for us all. They learn to entertain themselves. I learn to do a 'good-enough' job in short time-spans. Alternatively, they 'help' with the cleaning, which means it becomes an activity in its own right, teaching its own valuable lessons. And I learn to be patient with small 'helpers'.

3. Adopt the ONE ROOM rule
Very simple. I'm only allowed to think about cleaning ONE ROOM at a time. This self-imposed rule has changed me. It's so important to work in manageable chunks, to set realistic goals. The perfectionist in me wants to clean it all, brilliantly, right now. The reaction to such a ridiculous goal is inevitably procrastination, avoidance and feelings of failure. If ONE ROOM has been cleaned and there is time for more, then I'm allowed to think about it. But one is better than none.

4. Use the Tub Method

My first task after choosing ONE ROOM is to march into it with a big laundry tub. I then weed out everything that doesn't belong in that room, place it in the laundry tub - and take the laundry tub elsewhere, to be dealt with later.

This is where my method breaks down, and we usually have at least one laundry tub full of random items that floats from room to room, either because I don't get around to putting it away, or I'm still not sure where the 'stuff' should live yet. On the bright side, it keeps the surface mess down, and we know where to rummage if we've lost something.

5. Bicarb + Vinegar + Washcloths = Bliss

Sadly I'm only a relatively recent convert to these products. I tried once before and wasn't convinced, it all felt too hard, but since trying again almost a year ago, I'm sold. I could wax lyrical about them all day. Why? Here's a quick run-down:

  • Effective - I've found cleaning soap scum a doddle
  • People-safe - No big deal if the kiddies swallow them, which helps with point 2. I'm also doing a better job cleaning because I can jump in and scrub away without burning my skin or inhaling scary fumes.
  • Earth-friendly - less chemical weirdies, less packaging, non-polluting, blah blah.
  • Simple and Economical - yes, really, we do not need 18 different types of Wham-Bam-Whatever, just one lot of products for everything.
  • Weight-loss - oh, I wish. But a bit more elbow-grease can be required, and thus I do consider scrubbing the bath or oven a bit of exercise these days!

As for using washcloths... good texture for scrubbing, absorbent, hardy, endlessly washable and reusable. 'Nuff said.

6. Meditate-while-u-wait.

This one might sound a bit weird. Oh well. Because really, a repetitious and mindless task like cleaning is the perfect opportunity to do some reflecting. (I'm defining meditation here as reflection/contemplation rather than emptying the mind). If I don't choose something to think about while I clean, my mind likes to go into default mode, which often involves grumbly, resentful thoughts about cleaning, or anxious thoughts about all the things I should or could be doing. Instead, I find that thinking deliberately about a craft project, or praying for people I know, or (gasp!) concentrating on the task at hand, is very soothing and a much better use of my time.

So, that's me. I've come clean. Got anything I should add to the mix? Before I head off to clean something, that is...

PS I'm having formatting fights with Blogger. Apologies for ugly layout.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Little Monsters...

Keeping me company over the weekend:

One sick monster...
(well, when you throw up on your teddy bear, what else are you going to cuddle?)

... and one Sock Monster.In spite of one toddler with a 24hr stomach bug, I had a great time this weekend pattern-testing for Claire of Craft Schmaft. Her Sock Monster was one of the most gratifying craft projects I've done in a while. Short, simple, and I must say a FABULOUS use for all those lonely socks that I seem to acquire. This is actually the first-ever sock softie I've made. I think I'm in LOVE...